Alfred CD Vaughn – Baltimore Sun
At 83, Alfred CD Vaughn has counseled leaders in Baltimore City and elsewhere, and has been honored as a living legend among Baptist ministers. But the preacher and the lawyer have no ego; he considers himself a mere servant.
“I believe that as a pastor, I must have a servant’s spirit. I believe my calling is to serve, not to be served,” said Rev. Dr. Vaughn, longtime pastor of Sharon Baptist Church in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood.
Originally from Baltimore, the seventh of eight surviving children (his mother gave birth at age 12, but four did not live), Reverend Dr. Vaughn grew up in Sharon. He was baptized there and even worked as a janitor for a time.
“I never dreamed, as a janitor, of being a pastor here,” Reverend Dr. Vaughn said. “I am teasing [people] and say, ‘If I had known I was going to be a pastor, I would have cleaned up a little better.'”
Prior to becoming Sharon’s pastor in the mid-1980s, Reverend Dr. Vaughn served as pastor at Promise Land Baptist Church and Grace Memorial Baptist Church, both in Baltimore. But his spirit of service has also led him to act as an activist, riot broadcaster, and adviser to the mayor and Congress.
Whether it’s riding with the police in the 1968 uprising after the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., calming down armed troublemakers, allowing his church to serve as “ground zero” during protests following the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody, the Rev. Dr. Vaughn has been at the forefront of protests and peacemaking in Baltimore.
“There has not been, in the past 50 years, a more heard voice on anything significant in this city – from race relations to business development – than that of Dr. [Alfred C.D.] Vaughn,” said Reverend Dr. Vaughn’s mentee, Bishop Walter S. Thomas Sr., pastor of New Psalmist Baptist Church.
“He has been there for every major move in my life and has given me great pastoral guidance over these years,” said Bishop Thomas, who considers Reverend Dr Vaughn a father. “He’s normally the first call I make whenever something important happens.”
He is also a guide for other ministers. He served as president of the Hampton University Conference of Ministers, president of the Baltimore Baptist Conference of Ministers, and dean of theology at Eastern Seminary and Virginia Seminary (both located in Virginia).
“What struck me about him over the years was the respect other cabinet ministers had for him,” said Larry S. Gibson, a law professor, political organizer and longtime friend. “He kind of has a nickname, at least among ministers; he would be called “the Cardinal”. … He was a kind of peacemaker among the ministers.
As a professor at the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law, Mr Gibson recalled how the Reverend Dr Vaughn gave him the confidence to transition from practicing law to teaching full-time. “He gave great advice,” Mr. Gibson said.
Reverend Dr. Vaughn’s vision of a more equitable church led to groundbreaking work in his ministry: He made Sharon 32 female deacons when he first returned to his home church as pastor. .
“One of the things I’m really proud of is that I’ve been blessed to be an advocate for women in ministry,” the pastor said. “If God has sons, he certainly has daughters. And in God’s economy there is no separation between a female preacher and a male preacher, you are just his son or daughter and you have equal rights”
Her position on women’s leadership extends beyond the walls of the church. He calls his wife of nearly 59 years, Lillian PB Vaughn, “the boss,” and credits her for many of his accomplishments.
“If I had any success in life, I tell everyone, give me 40% and give her 60%, because she has been the force behind me, pushing me to do the things that I have done,” Rev. Dr. Vaughn said of the first lady of the church.
Reverend Dr. Vaughn’s children also played a pivotal role in his career.
“I had a son, he is now deceased, Corrogan,” the pastor said, calling the passing a great loss. “And then I have Reverend Lynnette, she’s my daughter, she helps me. And then I have Cassandra, who is the baby. They have all been a blessing to my life supporting me in the ministry.
“He always reminded us that we must have a spirit of prosperity and keep God first,” Cassandra Vaughn said. “No matter what, I don’t care if you stub your toe, ‘pray about it,'” he would say. “The life he lives in public is the life he lives in private.”
Although he uses a walking aid and a wheelchair, Reverend Dr. Vaughn’s servant spirit does not slow down. He still ministers to parishioners and the community, opening his doors when the pandemic hit to make sure people in the neighborhood had enough to eat.
While many celebrate Reverend Dr. Vaughn’s accomplishments, leadership and service, the humble pastor said he had just paid his dues.
“I really don’t believe, in my opinion, that I’ve done anything exceptional, because I believe the ancients were right when they said, ‘service is the price you pay to occupy this land. ‘” said the Rev. said Dr. Vaughn. “And everything I did, I did because I felt it was part of the territory.”
Alfred CD Vaughn
Current residence: Baltimore
Education: Virginia Seminary and College (now Virginia University Lynchburg); Southeastern University.
Career Highlights: Pastor of: Promise Land Baptist Church, Grace Memorial Baptist Church and Sharon Baptist Church; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Virginia Seminary and College; Chairman of the Advisory Board of Grace and Glory magazine; served as president of the Baltimore and Area Baptist Ministers’ Conference for eight terms.
Civic and charitable activities: Creation of the Sharon Baptist Church food bank; tutoring; school supply program; youth-elder program; Men’s Scholarship Program; allowing the church to be used as an activism base for the Sandtown-Winchester area.
Family: Married to Lillian PB Vaughn; three children; three grandchildren and two grandsons; a great grandson.